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Costly outcome of power outage for resident after Joburg substation blaze

19 October 2021 - 16:32
Fire caused extensive damage to infrastructure at the Robertsham substation in Joburg, including the two main transformers.
Fire caused extensive damage to infrastructure at the Robertsham substation in Joburg, including the two main transformers.
Image: City Power via Twitter

City Power is looking at alternatives to back-feed some of the suburbs affected by Monday night’s fire at the Robertsham substation in the south of Johannesburg.

Back-feeding is a process in which electrical power is added to the local power grid where it will flow in the direction opposite to its usual flow.

The fire caused extensive damage to infrastructure at the substation, including the two main transformers.

Several areas in the south will remain without power until repairs and replacement work ate completed.

Robertsham resident Albert Wilkins said the outage meant he and his fiancée would have to go to a restaurant or coffee shop to work.  

Both he and his partner, employed by a Johannesburg building supplier, are working from a coffee shop.

“The power went out at 8pm last night. We need to charge laptops and cellphones but working at a restaurant is costly.

“I’m also concerned about the food in the fridge. People are telling me it could take days to come back on, so we will have to buy food every day — more expensive than making it at home,” he said. 

The substation fire happened the day after a planned outage was cancelled, but City Power believes this is unrelated.

City Power said its planned outages are to do maintenance work on the system. This is a regular occurrence at substations. Robertsham substation falls under region F of the city, which had maintenance plans for Sunday.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the Robertsham substation was one of several due to undergo routine maintenance planned for a few weeks ago. “But due to load-shedding we were forced to move everything to after load-shedding. It has been rescheduled to a yet-to-be-announced date.

“I don’t believe the fire has anything to do with maintenance that was postponed by a week. We are doing root cause analysis as part of the investigation” he said.

The affected areas include:

  • Robertsham;
  • Booysens;
  • Booysens Reserve;
  • Crown Gardens;
  • Ridgeway; 
  • part of Mondeor; 
  • Gillview; 
  • Glenanda North;
  • Ophirton; 
  • Evans Park;
  • Ormonde;
  • Winchester Hills;
  • Southdale;
  • Aeroton;
  • Nasrec; and
  • Chrisville

Mangena said the entity would update customers on the developments throughout the day.